Figuring out the Enemy: Re-imagining Serbian-Albanian Relations

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
4:00 pm
Room 1201 International Affairs Building
Please join the Harriman Institute, the East Central European Center, and the Njegos Endowment for Serbian Language and Culture for a talk with Aleksandar Pavlović, Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz & Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade. 
Pavlović aims to challenge the Serbian-Albanian hostility by reinvestigating contemporary events and discourses from the past and recent times. In particular, he seeks to identify common views and practices that could deescalate the present enmity and promote cooperation. Starting from the examples of current hostility between Serbs and Albanians in scholarship (Dušan Bataković, Vladimir Stojančević, Đorđe Borozan, Rexhep Qosja, Skender Rizaj, to name but a few), sport (“the drone incident”), media and education (recent dispute about the nationality of Miloš [K]obilić in Serbian and Albanian textbooks and press), he argues that the proper origin of contemporary Serbian-Albanian hostility in the political sense of the word should be traced back to the last quarter of the 19th century. By proper political hostility, he takes Carl Schmitt’s notion of politics as the distinction between friend and enemy that counts with the real possibility of war between two opposed collectives. In order to contend the popular view of the centennial Serbian-Albanian hostility, his enquiry focuses on the different portrayals of their relationship in the oral tradition, early Balkan ethnography and diplomacy, and follows the change in their perceptions from the later part of the nineteenth century onwards. Pavlović hopes to re-affirm common Serbian, Montenegrin and Albanian traditions such as folk oral songs and heroic narratives, which stem from a similar social background and shared patriarchal values among these ethnic groups, or writers and scholars who insisted on the shared values of heroism, hospitality and honor among Serbs, Montenegrins and Albanians.